Sunday, July 19, 2009

Allison Schulnik at Marty Walker Gallery

Yesterday I visited some Dallas art galleries. I was really impressed by the architecture of these spaces. They rivaled the expensive art temples of LA (I’m thinking of galleries like Acme or the new Roberts & Tilton), with their white floors, vaulted ceilings, and grand foyers/front desks. For me, the art took a back seat to the spaces this time around, except for a stop-animation video by Allison Schulnik at Marty Walker Gallery. (The video can be viewed at these links.)

Schulnik is a native Californian living in LA, it turns out, though I don’t think I have encountered her work there before. So, I was happy to find her Hobo Clown on a loop in this Dallas gallery’s project room. I was mesmerized by her characters’ rainbow tears and watched the video several times through as the clowns’ eyes excreted color after swirling color. They seem swamped by the beauty of the world around them, almost sorrowful at their inability to take it all in.

It occurred to me that the clowns’ tears could be a metaphor for my experience as a visual artist observing my surroundings. As my work has become more influenced by place over the past few years, I notice that my eyeballs often feel overwhelmed by the world around them, at the effort of taking in the details (such as when I travelled back to Arkansas in May and was shocked by the green). I want to capture everything around me with my internal camera so that I can accurately reflect a place and my feelings about it in my work. However, that internal camera is never fast enough, and its memory card is filled too quickly, so that I am often left with just fleeting impressions of a color, a pattern, or a shape. The paintings and installations that I make later are highly subjective products of this faulty memory and eye of mine.

So my sympathy went out to the poor raggedy claymation clowns in the video; sometimes I wish my eyes could regurgitate all that extra too.

(Image is a still from Hobo Clown, from the artist's website.)

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